Ministry, by definition, does not exist without people. People are who we minister to; our churches and the communities we live in are filled with people. Therefore, harvesting and developing healthy relationships is of utmost importance to any type of ministry, but especially worship ministry.
Worship Ministry Is Unique
Worship ministry is unique for a variety of reasons. The first being that it is generally assumed that worship ministry is focused around music and the arts in a church setting. No other type of ministry has this focus. Because of this focus, ministers of worship tend to work very closely with a relatively small group of people with specific giftings. This is not always the case in other types of ministry. A lead pastor might work less closely with a larger group, or a youth pastor might work closely with a smaller group, but both groups and filled with people who have little in common. A worship pastor, however, is tasked with recruiting, managing, teaching, and shepherding a small group of people who all have a shared interest – music and art.
Music and the Arts Are A Very Emotional Entity
This is the power of music in the Church, that it is able to make truths come alive in our hearts by the power of emotion; it is able to soften our hearts to hear from the Lord. Because of this reality, a general trend is seen in the type of people who are typically drawn to serve in the area of worship - they are emotional. They tend to think less in binary and more in abstract concepts. They also tend to take their art very seriously and very personally, especially they feel it is being criticized. So, not only do worship leaders have the unique task of leading volunteers of a specific interest group, but they also have the wonderful privelage of leading what is quite possibly the most emotional and easily offended group of individuals in a whole body of believers.
We Must Be Relational
We as worship leaders must be relational because of this circumstance. We must be able to harvest and shepherd healthy relationships with our volunteers, otherwise any decision we make will be taken personally. Our love and our care for these emotional groups of people is what will sustain us during the times of difficult conversations and the times of having to raise expectations. I have a few strategies that I have learned from experience and study that I believe can help develop healthy, biblical relationships with volunteers so that they feel not only loved, but well led.
The first strategy is simply to pray. Pray for your volunteers daily. Pray that they will experience the grace of God daily. Pray for their families. Pray that they will see and understand the vision of your ministry. Pray that they will grow continually in their walk with the Lord. Intercession is the greatest work that we can do for our people. This means that we need to know the needs of our people and pray specifically for them. This means that we need a relationship with them.
"Intercession is the greatest work that we can do for our people."
2. Read the Word
How do we build relationships with our team members? The most effective way that I have found is to have a time to read the Word and pray for each other at every rehearsal. Share with them what the Lord has put on your heart and then at the end ask what is going on in their lives and how you can pray for them. You will get to know people a lot by what they ask for prayer for. Then pray for them right then and there! Sometimes its beneficial to ask them to pray instead of yourself. Praying together creates unity that can only be found in Christ.
"Praying together creates unity that can only be found in Christ".
3. Grab Coffee
Another great way to build relationships is to grab coffee with the volunteers [that it is appropriate to do so with.] Make coffee a time to chat about what is going on in their lives, discuss biblical concepts, and even laugh together. If you manage a larger group of volunteers, it is not always feasible to hang out with every member one-on-one all the time, but what you can do is make an effort to grab coffee with at least one volunteer per week.
The last thing that I do is send texts. This might often go overlooked, but each week I text my team on rotation. More often than not I just send encouraging texts thanking them for serving that week or applauding them for the wonderful job that they did on Sunday. This is a nice personal touch that keeps people connected to you even when they might be physically removed.
All of these things, while great ideas, should always be centered around the Word. The reality is that if we as leaders are first living a life obedient to God’s word, then we will continually be sanctified and the Lord will help guide and govern these relationships!
“I will meditate on your precepts, and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your Word.” (Psalm 119:15-16)
Contributor / Matt Wagner
Matt Wagner is the Worship Pastor at Woodside Bible Church in Royal Oak, MI and serves as a Worship Leader with ONElife Worship.